Budget gift for a budget couple in Chicago from her budget cousin
February 10, 2012 6:57 PM   Subscribe

[Chicago gift filter] What $50 gift can I buy online for a sorta-broke, semi-newlywed-ish, crazy-busy couple in Chicago?

I am a total poopy-head who neglected to get Christmas gifts for my cousin (whom I'm very close with) and her newish-husband. So I've resolved to get them a Valentines gift. In the past when we both lived in the same city during college, I'd usually get them a gift certificate for our local movie theater so they could go on a "real date". Now, they live in Chicago, and I'm in New Orleans, and I have no clue what would be a good, similar gift to get them.

More criteria:
--Gift needs to be something I can buy online and either have sent to them directly or emailed. I'm broke myself, so $50 is about as much as I can swing.
--Preferably a gift certificate. They are in a big apartment building so I'm antsy about how they could receive a big delivered package.
--They live pretty close to Lincoln Park Zoo, so anything that's within reasonable walking/very short drive is ideal.
--I looked at the Lettuce Entertain You GC. I get the vibe this has sort of a chainy flavor, which I'm not against but not sure if it's right for this situation. Any ideas on this are welcome. But I really like the idea of location flexibility, rather than being locked into one restaurant or one venue.
--They don't need any more newlywed kitchen or household stuff, that's covered.
--He is an architect, she is getting her master's in nursing. They both have pretty nutty schedules.
--I'm leaning towards something date-y they can use, because I don't think they spend much money treating themselves to nights out and they totally deserve it. On the other hand, they are slightly homebody-ish, so having to don a tux and formal wear for anything I get them is not the effect I'm going for.

posted by mostly vowels to Grab Bag (8 answers total)
Lettuce Entertain You is "chainy" in that one corporation is behind a bunch of different restaurants, but the restaurants themselves are fairly unique and generally speaking well regarded. If I were still living in Chicago and received such a gift I would be pleased.

I would also be pleased with a membership somewhere but I'm guessing that most museum memberships in Chicago are more than $50 these days. Worth a look, of course.
posted by FlamingBore at 7:15 PM on February 10, 2012

This is not an experience gift/gift certificate but I got it for close friends as a shower gift and they still talk about it. The Spice House in Old Town in Chicago has Chicago-themed spice gift boxes. I think they're pretty great if your cousin would use them. You can order online and the box isn't too big. It's something a little different...
posted by Bunglegirl at 7:15 PM on February 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

I googled the zoo and then looked at grocery stores near by. A gift certificate for an upscale grocery store is a real treat.
This is my first and only choice. They serve lunch as well as chocolate. I want to go there. Now.
posted by myselfasme at 7:35 PM on February 10, 2012

Lettuce Entertain You gift certificates are perfectly respectable, except for the worst Chicago food snobs. Cafe BaBaReBa (a tapas place) is on of the LYE restaurants in Lincoln Park. Geja's in Lincoln Park does gift certificates--it's fondue and fun and very popular for date nights.

In Fine Spirits is in Andersonville--not Lincoln Park--but you can buy their gift certificates online and they have a decent selection of stuff.

Lots of restaurants will issue gift certificates, but you will probably have to do it over the phone, rather than online. We got several (including one from Takashi, which does do them online) when we got married.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:45 PM on February 10, 2012

seconding the spice house...their mixes are great and i usually end up buying some for myself and friends/family every year.
posted by shrimpsmalls at 8:06 PM on February 10, 2012

A friend of mine who lived in Mexico for a while said that Ricky Bayless' Frontera Grill was the best Mexican food she had outside of Mexico. $50 there wouldn't likely cover a full dinner w/ apps, entrees and drinks, but it'd be a great start and/or could cover a more budget-minded, shared dinner (or lunch for that matter!).
posted by Betty's Table at 8:35 PM on February 10, 2012

Thirding Lettuce Entertain You gift cards. I've enjoyed all the LEYE restaurants I've tried, and there's a variety of cuisines and budget ranges.

A bonus: several of the restaurants are participating in Chicago Restaurant Week, which starts a couple days after Valentine's Day.
posted by SisterHavana at 9:13 PM on February 10, 2012

The LYE gift card it is! Thanks for the input, y'all.
posted by mostly vowels at 12:40 PM on February 11, 2012

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